Burger &  Shake, Marchmont Street, London

Good all rounder, over-ordered like crazy as a result. Hard shakes are ftw.

Burger Source

Having eaten our way through many of the mainstays of London burgerness, we are having to hunt harder for top shops to feed our (well, mostly my) burger habit. Friends wanted to meet near Holborn, so Burger & Shake it was to be. The other mooted venue was a Hoxton Burger, but I also wanted my first experience of the famous Hoxton Grill to be in Hoxton, rather than in the more generalist restaurant that supports the Hoxton Hotel in Holborn, so I vetoed it…

To call the website minimalist would be overstating things, but the menu does tell us this much: “Our 100% beef patty is made up of cuts from Aberdeen angus and charolais cattle, that graze in Ayrshire Scotland. We cook our beef burgers medium rare as standard…”

So far, so good.

The order

The friends who wanted to meet in the area (and who worked locally) were late. So we kicked off with some wings and some chilli fries. I kicked in for a “Bourbontun” hard shake, feat. Vanilla, peanut butter and bourbon… because obviously. Then came the main order; Jimjamjebobo and I split the House Burger (“180g beef patty, lettuce, tomato, pickle, American cheese and sweet cured bacon with our mustard and horseradish ketchup sauce”) and the New Yorker (“180g beef patty, lettuce, French’s mustard, Monterey Jack Cheese, pickle and fried onion. Served in our potato bun that is cooked with the patty under a cloche on the grill.”)

That’s when things started to go wrong (in terms of how much we ordered).  And I’ll take a lot of responsibility for this – I’d been ill for a few weeks and this was a first outing with friends in a while, so I was celebrating/commiserating the bloc of time out of commission with food.

And so we ALSO ordered onion rings. More chilli fries. A further double portion of wings. Mac & Cheese with bacon.  AND sweet potato fries. Even between five of us, this was WAY too much food.

The meat of it

Both the burgers we ordered looked great – fresh, glazed potato roll, well stacked with a healthy six ounce patty that was clearly well cooked (if perhaps more the medium side of medium rare than the rare side). Grind, pack and fat ratio was good (I like my burgers like I like my women… coarse ground and loosely packed*), meat was juicy but not dripping, the build was excellent on first impression.

Then to the taste…

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The House burger was good, if perhaps lacking in the bangin’ beats the name and description promise. There wasn’t a hint of horesradish in the horseradish ketchup and, if I’m being critical, the patty was a little underseasoned. The bacon was good but not crunchy enough to provide textural contrast, and not enough saltiness. The bun and other fillings held up well, but there wasn’t quite enough umami in this one for me. Could be better.

The New Yorker came up trumps, though (no pun intended). The onions and pickle provided a lovely crisp, sweet finish, the monterey jack cheese added a salty oomph to the thing, and the whole was greater than the sum of its parts… although the burger did slide around on the onions something chronic.

If I’d had to choose between them from the descriptions alone, I’d have backed the House burger for the top job (everyone else ordered it), but the New Yorker came up from behind to win it all. Impressive work. Even if it’s less effective an analogy for the 2016 presidential raced than it initially seemed it might be.

As to the sides:

  • the wings were lush, substantial, crispy and perfectly coated with the uncle Frank’s hot sauce/butter combination that is Buffalo.
  • The chilli fries – weren’t seasoned before the addition of chilli (WHY, OH WHY?) so they were a bit bland and soggy, but the chilli was good as those things go. Depth of flavour and lovely hint of heat, rich meat and bean sauce in plentiful supply.  Regular fries would have been better in my view, but I think I’m perhaps the kind of guy who likes fries AND likes chilli, but doesn’t love them together.
  • The onion rings were disappointing for me; the batter hadn’t stuck, and the onions were glistening through like an exposed femur on an animated corpse. The flecks of pepper in the batter felt like false advertising; there was little flavour to them. That said, the onions were sweet and the batter crisp… just a few (major) minuses holding it back from excellence.
  • The first bowl of sweet potato fries were sent back as they were undercooked. The second batch were cooked but still somewhat limp and lifeless, and needed seasoning to oomph up.
  • The mac & bacon (no pic, soz) was fine but bland as I always find mac & cheese variants. Probably a reasonable example of the genre, if you were someone that had tried it enough times to care to differentiate between one bold of cheese mush and another.

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The bourbontun… OMG, this was delicious. Mostly a vanillla shake, the occasional glugs of peanut butter you get are like winning a mini lottery, and the bourbon gives a background hint that you’re not just indulging five year old you (ok, mostly you still are… but totes worth it). Definitely want to have this again, and I’m lactose intolerant!

Monkey finger rating

Bun –  4/5
Build – 5/5
Burger – 4/5
Taste –  4/5
Sides – 3.5/5 – slight losses for chilli fries and sweet potato shenanigans
Value – 4/5 – £23 a head for burger, a tonne of sides & drink, & tip – not cheap but reasonable value for the quality and quntity o the food.

Burger rating – 4/5 – only really suffering from a minor umami docking and some mediocrity around the sides. It’s a good place.

The deets

The small, diner-style restaurant is halfway down Marchmont Street. Full details: Burger & Shake, 47 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AP Tel: 020 7837 7718  info@burgerandshake.co.uk

* This is an Eddie Izzard reference… not a weird fetish.

Dip & Flip, Battersea Rise

Surprise contender for best burger in London?

Burger Source

I can find surprisingly little on the web on the genesis of this small, seemingly independent chain of burger restaurants. I can tell you what they say about their beef: “West country beef, forerib, chuck, and a little added fat make our 180g patties. They are then smashed onto our imported chrome griddle, which is super hot, sealing in the flavour and creating a wonderful crust, so no flavour is lost on our grill. Served in a soft brioche bun with French’s mustard, ketchup, American cheese, cabbage slaw and pickles.” And, crucially, given it’s a signature feature, what they say about their gravy: “We roast a selection of carefully sourced beef bones to a rich golden brown. Then we simmer them, with organic vegetables and herbs, for a long time. This bone broth is the heart and soul of our gravy. Roasting juices from the bottom of the pan are added to the broth along with a few other little secrets (All beef related) to make our delicious gravy which we serve with almost everything for dipping.”

It’s all pretty delicious.

A little bit of web investigation reveals that “Bob Francis Double Dip Limited”, the company that has registered the dipandflip.co.uk domain name, was founded in February 2013 (as far as Companies House knows), and has one director – presumably company founder – Timothy John Lees, whose past ventures include “Lees Library Consultancy Services Ltd” of Dundee, a company which was wound up in 2014.  Oddly, I was ignored on Twitter when I asked for someone to email some questions to about the company’s history…

Regardless, nothing to see here, so let’s get to the beef.

The order

I went for the bacon double cheeseburger, which was just greedy really. F&D’s 6oz patties are plenty for a single, so you probably don’t need more – I certainly didn’t, but that didn’t stop me finishing it.

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I wasn’t keen to try the actual dip & flip specials, which feature sliced roasted lamb or beef soaked in gravy on top of a burger bun – and felt validated by the choice. Whilst I’m sure it would have been good, I wanted the textural contrast the crispy bacon promised, and didn’t feel that I needed that much gravy. Sides featured regular fries and chilli, gravy, cheese and bacon fries.

The meat of it

Holy moley, this was totally unexpected. The beef patties had a rich, crispy  crust, which surprisingly held a deliciously juicy, perfectly medium patty. The coarsely ground, loosely packed beef was incredibly well seasoned and topped with gooey, delicious cheese. The bacon strips were curled and crispy and packed with salty flavour. Two crisp, large but thin pickle slices, supported by the promised cabbage slaw, protected the underside of the thick, sturdy brioche bun from the intensely beefy juices which dropped out of the burger with each bite, a gift of the burger’s sensibly high fat/lean ratio (I suspect 25%:75%). On initial cross bite, I was worried the burger might be overcooked, but it was just edge factor – the middle of the burger was a perfect medium pink. The (fairly) sweet brioche provided a necessary counterpoint to the umami fest that the rest of the burger represented. Wow. Just wow.

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The fries were crispy but slightly overseasoned. The chilli/gravy/bacon/cheese fries were, on the other hand, perfect. Not soggy till the very end, delicious cheese, a light kick from the chillis and a delicious crunch from the same bacon that topped the burger.

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Almost everything about this meal screamed ‘outstanding’.

But wait, I hear you ask, what about the dip, the gravy? Even the normal burgers come with the gravy which is, admittedly, excellent. Just not wholly necessary; I enjoyed it more with the fries than I did when dipping the burger in it; the burger just didn’t need any further savoury-ness. If anything, something beyond the salt and sweet of meat and bun – perhaps a little more mustard, in the fry (in the style of Dirty Burger) would have sorted it.

Drinks wise, friends had a couple of hard shakes (I had a taste – outstanding) but I stuck with bourbon – a nicely bitter taste to clear the palate in and amongst huge meaty mouthfuls.

Monkey finger rating

Bun –  5/5 – even if you don’t normally like Brioche, it’s the perfect companion for this burger
Build – 5/5
Burger – 5/5
Taste –  5/5
Sides – 4.5/5
Value – 5/5 – £18 a head including tip between six of us, with drinks, felt reasonable

Burger rating – 5/5 – This is now in joint first place for best burger in London for me, alongside Bleecker Street and Lucky Chip (which may get a re-visit during its ‘Stranger Things’ month). Amazing.

The deets

There are a couple of Dips & flips around Southwest London, find the locations here. We ate at Battersea rise, 5 minutes walk from Clapham Junction station, by the Northcote pub.

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